An Irish Bracelet (and Ways to Celebrate)

Once again, I’m showing off something someone else made for me.  Doesn’t that just make you want to send me a gift I can showcase?  Okay, maybe not. It was worth a try.

Anyway, my sister-in-law made this memory wire bracelet for me almost ten years ago, when my favorite GI Joe was deployed, we were still waiting to become parents through adoption, and my day-to-day life just wasn’t the greatest. Although it was better than the hubs’s daily life in the sandbox. She sent me lots of little care packages which always seemed to arrive just when I needed a bright spot.  I think these were a MOPS project, or maybe a church group for one of her kids.  In any event, I sure am glad she sent it, way back when memory wire was a novelty and I was amazed at its “memory.”

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If you’ve not worked with memory wire, it’s a jewelry maker’s dream because you don’t need a clasp of any sort.  All you do is make a small loop at one end, to keep the beads from sliding off, then just string your beads.  At the other end, make another loop and attach a cool charm. As you can see, it’s lost none of its shape over the years (although those silver beads could stand a little polishing…but I like the antique look the tarnish gives it!).

As you might imagine, with our very Irish last name (and my family came over from the Emerald Isle, as well), St. Patrick’s is a ginormous event in our home.  Here are a few ways that you can up the Irish in your house, too, if you’d like.

1. The hooligans always build a leprechaun trap.  It never works, of course.0311-Leprechaun-Trap-2

2. The leprechaun plays all sorts of tricks.  He turns the milk and orange green, as well as the toilet water. Last year he built a pyramid of our kitchen chairs, and hung rainbow windcatchers all over some tree branches on the porch. 0312-Leprechaun-Tree

3.  He makes a mess of the trap, and drops a few small toys and chocolate coins as he escapes out the door.Leprechaun-Trap-3

4. He leaves green rubber snakes (St. Patrick drove the snakes out of Ireland) in random and surprising places in the house.

5. We always have Lucky Charms for breakfast on St. Pat’s and, of course, corned beef and cabbage with Irish soda bread for dinner. You can see the recipes here, in a post from last March. We made these little cups of Lucky Charms for the kindergarten snack last year.  Kindergarten-St-Pats-Snack-

I know, it’s still a few weeks away, but I want you to have time to stock up on Lucky Charms, corned beef, and green food coloring before the stores are sold out…it could happen. And then you’d be sad, now wouldn’t you?

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Some Ideas for Dr. Seuss’s Birthday

I think Theodore Geisel should have been a Poet Laureate of the United States.

He was born on the second of March, which for us translates

To green eggs and ham with wubbulous pancakes to start,

Then all day long with books and movies that are close to our heart.

Today’s post is a compilation of a few ideas to help you celebrate, too.

But only, of course, if that’s what you choose to do!

baby deals

from Babysavers.com

Okay, so that was a really bad attempt, but here are a few great ideas to up the happy in your day!

Seuss Collage

We loved The Lorax even before the new movie version, and I keep trying to get Princess Thundercloud to have a Lorax birthday (it’s near Earth Day), but to no avail.  See this and lots of other Lorax ideas at Cute Food for Kids.

Sill loving subway art, even though the “in crowd” might not…here’s a great printable from Balancing Home.

My kids love these simple placemats to play a “One Fish, Two Fish” game…of course, we have to use rainbow goldfish ‘cause we’re a colorful family.  Print them at Obseussed.com.

For a little something sweet (maybe an afterschool snack), Crazy for Crust shows you how to make these great “Cat in the Hat” smoothies and “Green Eggs and Ham” snacks.

And last but not least, a Dr. Seuss Cootie Catcher from The Country Chic Cottage. Because who doesn’t need one of those, I’d like to know?

Dr Seuss Activity -- FREE Printable Cootie Catcher

So I hope you have fun celebrating Dr. Seuss’s birthday…we sure will!

 

Lucky Leprechaun Push Pops

Have you seen the current craze for Push Pops?  Well, perhaps you don’t spend enough time on Pinterest. They’re hot, hot, hot, people!  I bought some from Pick Your Plum (before Lent, fortunately, since I gave up online shopping for Lent), but I saw them at my local Target yesterday.  They’re in the section with baking pans, if you’re looking. You can also order them from Amazon or Consumer Crafts. See? They’re everywhere, I tell you!

Now, some of the ideas for them seem a little out there to me.  Seven Layer Dip?  Really?  How are you going to get a bit of all seven layers?  Layers of cake and frosting are cute, as are parfaits of fruits and yogurts.  But I wanted something for St. Patrick’s Day. Voila! (As they say in Ireland).

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This is definitely not rocket science, but here’s how I did it.

First, I had to sort a giant bag of Skittles, sampling for quality control, of course. There were may fewer red that the others, which were pretty much equal. Hmmm.

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Then I layered them into my containers.  There’s no blue in my rainbow, because Skittles don’t come in blue. Don’t judge.

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I topped each with a couple of chocolate gold coins, tied on a bit of bakers’ twine, and attached a tag. I downloaded the tags from somewhere last year, but can’t find where, so here are some similar ones, from HGTV.com.  You can find lots of others online.

These contain roughly two servings of Skittles, so don’t give them to your own kids, unless they’re headed somewhere other than inside your home.  I’m personally hoping for some warmer weather so my hooligans can burn off the sugar outside!

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Look for me linking up here:
Manic Mother

February Books of the Month

This month’s picks are a bit different…you’ll see what I mean.

1. The Bippolo Seed and Other Lost Stories by Dr. Seuss

It’s almost Dr. Seuss’s birthday, and I just have to include this book. My first grader absolutely loves Dr. Seuss, and I was excited to give him this for Christmas last year. As a toddler, I read The Lorax about a thousand times to this child (no simple “One Fish, Two Fish” for him!), so I needed a break!

These short stories are, in a word, fabulous. We read one of them almost every night, no matter what other books they’ve picked out in addition. I find them entertaining, and, like all Dr. Seuss works, they contain wonderful life lessons to soak into their little minds.  The hooligans love to talk about the moral of the story, which is always a good thing.

2.The Last Kingdom by Bernard Cornwell

I did not read this book, but the hubs did.  It was a Free Friday pick for my Nook, and he found himself without anything to read. And he loves to read on his iPad. So he raced through the first one, then bought the second for the Nook, as well.  Then he realized that it’s a series of six books.

Our local library has them all, and I think he’s a little surprised at himself, reading the entire series this month…in actual books, not an electronic format. I convinced him that staring at a screen just before bedtime was stimulating his brain and interrupting his sleep (which I completely believe to be true), but he was so engrossed in the hard copies of the books, he ended up losing a lot of sleep, anyway!

Loss of sleep aside, he’s enjoyed the series, so if the man in your life is looking for a series about the Crusades era, this might be a great choice.

3. The Witchdoctor’s Wife by Tamar Myers

I could not put this book down, people.  The author lived with her missionary parents in Africa for much of her childhood, and this book offers a fascinating look at African society in a diamond-mining region.

While portraying how the diamond mine executives controlled and mistreated the native Africans, the author gave the impression that the “management” actually was being manipulated by those they considered inferior.

The complex, well-developed characters combined with the imagery of the landscape perfectly. I cannot wait to read her other books.

4. Eight Girls Taking Pictures by Whitney Otto

This book tells the stories of eight women photographers in the early to mid-20th century.  While I didn’t give up completely on it, and I did finish it, it was nowhere near as interesting as I expected it to be.

The book flap described it as showing the intertwining lives of these women, and how they dealt with making choices between career, love, and family.

All of those were just slightly true claims. Their lives didn’t intertwine so much as touch briefly as they end up in the same cities in Europe.  Being a photography buff, I was really looking forward to reading about pioneering female photographers.  I suppose this was worth the time I put into reading it, but I wouldn’t recommend it to friends.

So there you have it…I read a few other books this month, but was mostly in the mood for light and fluffy: A couple of books from Sara Rosett’s series, a couple of other fine-but-forgettable mysteries, and Boom by Mark Haddon with the kids.

Happy Reading (and for next month, I’m reading a couple of your suggestions from last month…so keep ‘em coming!)!!

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By George, Let’s Make Cherry Pies!

Yes, I know the whole cherry tree story about George Washington is fiction…but I prefer to ignore that in order to justify making (and eating) cherry pies for his actual birthday, which is today.  I’m an ostrich when it serves my purpose.

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As I’ve mentioned previously, I love all the Wisconsin cherry products available in our local grocery store.  For these pies, I decided to use a jar of filling from Door County rather than making my own, since the only ingredients at cherries, juice, sugar, and cornstarch…the same as I use when making it from scratch. Plus, I was feeling lazy.

Pies-Jar

The only other ingredients are two pie crusts (I made my own, but store-bought is perfectly fine), a beaten egg, some powdered sugar, and a bit of sparkling sugar to sprinkle on top.

First, roll out the dough slightly thinner than a pie crust…you want it just thick enough that it doesn’t tear when you pick it up, but not so thick it’s doughy when baked.  Use a bowl or other round object about 4” in diameter to cut out circles of dough.  You can get about 12 circles from two pie crusts, rerolling your scraps.

Pies-Circles

Spoon a scant two tablespoons of filling onto one half of each circle. Resist the temptation to overfill…they’ll leak for sure if you do, then you’ll get even less filling left in them!  Dip your finger in a beaten egg and run it around the outside of the dough circle, to help it seal.

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Fold half of the dough over the filling and seal with a fork, being careful not to puncture the dough.  Place on a parchment lined baking sheet (with a rim, just in case you have a leak!).

Pies-on-Pan

I also have a heart-shaped pie press that I ordered a few years ago from Martha Stewart.  I use it to make a few of these, because the kids like the smaller, heart-shaped ones better. They’re kind of a pain, though, so go right ahead and only make round ones.  Here’s how to make the heart-shaped ones:

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Place a tablespoon of filling on rolled dough, cut out one heart and put it over the filling, then press down with the pie press. I always have to reseal them with a fork, and they still tend to leak.

Bake the pies at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes, until barely golden.  Remove from oven and let cool.  Make a glaze of 1 cup powdered sugar and 1-2 tablespoons of milk.  Dip the tops of the pie in the glaze and place back on the parchment to dry a bit.  While glaze is still wet, sprinkle with sparkling sugar if you’d like.

Pies-Heart

See… those hearts didn’t stay sealed.  At least no filling leaked out to be wasted!

My grandma Dixie used to make fried apricot pies for holidays, which were delicious.  My mom then inherited the making of the fried pies, and began baking them rather than frying.  She uses store-bought rolled pie crusts, and she rolls them so thin she can make 16 out of two crusts.  Someday I’ll be that good!  Until then, I’ll just enjoy the crunchy crust and the ooey-gooey, oh-so-good filling.  Hope you do, too!

I’m partying at the Pi Day Pie Party at Crazy for Crust today. Come party with us!

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Beaded Stitch Markers

As I was perusing knitting needles at the craft store the other day, I noticed a little package of beaded stitch markers. And I thought (go ahead, say it with me!), “I could easily make those myself!”Stitch-Markers-Title

They required just a few supplies, most of which I already had.  I only needed to purchase some earring hooks. To make them, you’ll need some beads (different colors for the main bead of each is best), head pins, and earring hooks.  As far as tools, I used needle-nose pliers and another pair known to me only as “my jewelry pliers.” They most likely have another name.  The tips are conical, so perfect for making different size loops.

Stitch-Marker-Supplies

The first step is to string a few beads on a head pin, then wrap the end around the pliers to make a loop.

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Next, wrap the end around two or three times, then snip it as closely as you can.  Use the needle-nose pliers to wrap it tightly around…you don’t want it to snag your yarn.

Stitch-Marker-Wrapping

Open one of the earring hooks using the needlenose pliers.

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Slip the beaded piece into the open earring loop, then close it using the pliers.

Stitch-Marker-Single

And you’re done! Now you can “tend to your knitting” again, as my grandma used to tell me.  I’m pretty sure she was not telling my nosy nose to actually go knit.

So are you working on any new needlework projects?  I finished my first hat (very successfully, I thought!) and gave it to my sweetie for Valentine’s Day. Apparently he liked it…he even wore it while sitting on the couch watching “Hotel Transylvania” with the hooligans. I didn’t think our house was THAT cold!Signature

Lovely Beaded Baubles

Today, I’m just plain showing off…but it’s not something I made, so that’s okay, right?  My friend Steph sent me these lovely beaded rings she made and I just have to show them to you.

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They’re so simple, yet the sparkle gives me a little lift each time they catch a ray of sunlight on these frigid winter days.  At least we have a bit of sunshine!

Steph used clear beading elastic to make these, along with shiny metal and sparkly crystal beads. When finished, I think she just tied them and hid the knot inside a bead.

Princess Thundercloud covets them, but she’s not allowed to wear any jewelry to school. Too bad, so sad for her. It’s the teacher’s rule, not mine!

Don’t you feel the need to whip up several of these little sparklers for yourself (or to send a ray of color into a friend’s day)?  Thanks so much, Steph!  You totally rock! Totally.

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Lightened Up Baked Potato Soup

Who doesn’t love baked potato soup?  I hesitate to order it in restaurants, though, because I have (foolishly) checked out the calorie and nutrition info online. I thought there must be a better, healthier way to make this soup, without losing any of the flavor. After a few tries, I came up with this keeper.

I bake the potatoes while making dinner the night before we’re having this.  Then, it only takes about half an hour to finish it up before dinner on the serving day.  I throw together a green salad, and we generally have some sort of crusty rolls with it. Hope your family enjoys it as much as mine!

Baked-Potato-Soup

Lightened Up Baked Potato Soup

  • 4 medium baking potatoes (about 2-1/2 lbs)
  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 6 cups skim milk
  • 1 cup reduced-fat shredded cheddar cheese
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 1 cup reduced-fat sour cream
  • 1 can (14-oz) fat free chicken broth
  • ¾ cup sliced green onions, divided
  • ½ cup bacon bits, or 6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Pierce the potatoes all over with a fork, and bake for 1 hour or until tender. Let cool, then peel potatoes and mash them coarsely.

2. Place flour in a large Dutch oven; gradually add the milk, whisking constantly to avoid lumps. Cook over medium heat until thickened and bubbly (about 8 minutes), stirring frequently. Add mashed potatoes, ¾ cup cheese, and black pepper, stirring until cheese melts.

3. Reduce heat to low. Stir in sour cream, broth, and ½ cup green onions. Cook over low heat until hot throughout, about 10 minutes. Do not boil, though! Ladle into bowls and top with remaining onions, cheese, and about 1 Tbsp of crumbled bacon per serving.

Yield: 8 servings (about 1-1/2 cups each)

Click here for the printable recipe

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Colorblocked Thank You Card

I’m trying to embrace the colorblock trend.  Truly, I am. But I keep thinking of the 80’s when colorblocking was everywhere, along with football-player-sized shoulder pads. Shudder. To paraphrase Taylor Swift, shoulder pads and I are never, ever, ever getting back together. Ever.

I did come up with this card, though, that incorporates blocks of some of my favorite Stampin’ Up! colors.  And not a shoulder pad flashback to be endured.

Color-Block-Card

Supplies:  Elements of Style and Short & Sweet Stamp Sets; Crumb Cake, Marina Mist, Rich Razzleberry, Night of Navy, Daffodil Delight, and Pumpkin Pie cardstock; Night of Navy Ink; 5/8” Marina Mist Grosgrain Ribbon; 1-1/4” Pumpkin Pie Striped Ribbon; Top Note Die; Big Shot

The Short and Sweet stamp set and the ribbons are retired, but, thanks to my hoarding tendencies, I still have plenty!  You can find perfect substitutes, I’m sure…you’re creative that way. To make the colorblocked section, I cut a piece of Crumb Cake cardstock to 4-1/4” x 5-1/2”, then adhered the strips of colored cardstock, cut into 1”x 4-1/4” pieces. I ran that whole thing through the Big Shot with the Top Note Die.

After stamping the flourish from the Elements of Style set on the die cut, I stamped and punched the sentiment. I attached the ribbons and sentiment to the diecut piece and adhered the whole thing to the Crumb Cake card base. Ta-da!

These colors really pop on the Crumb Cake base and are certain to brighten anyone’s day when they receive it!

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Prosciutto Pinwheels

Looking for a simple yet impressive and delicious appetizer or snack?  Or a great accompaniment to a bowl of yummy soup?  These Prosciutto Pinwheels serve perfectly for any of those options!

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Prosciutto Pinwheels

  • 1 box (2 sheets) frozen puff pastry, thawed
  • 2/3 cup spicy brown mustard
  • ¾ lb prosciutto, very thinly sliced
  • 2 cups shredded provolone

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment. Working with one sheet of the puff pastry, roll it out on a lightly floured surface to a 14-inch square. Brush with a thin layer of mustard (using 1/3 cup). Cover with half the prosciutto and half the Provolone, leaving ½” uncovered along all four edges.

2. Roll pastry tightly from one edge. Pinch seams to seal Cut into ½” pieces and place cut side down on baking sheet, 1” apart.

Rolling

3. Repeat with remaining pastry and filling.

4. Bake 10-15 minutes, until golden brown.

Click here for the printable recipe

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